Welcome! This site is an endeavor to spread an attitude of positive thinking and optimism. By searching for joy and beauty in all things - even the mundane, perhaps a smile will spread from my computer ... to you!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Unexpected Winnings"

Don't you just LOVE receiving a little piece of unexpected Joy?

I was looking forward to a district meeting of catholic women this morning, held at our parish. After several invitations over the last couple of years I finally accepted, and joined this wonderful organization who support each other in the continuation of their spiritual growth as catholic women, while serving the church and their community. The meeting was to begin at 9:30 a.m. this morning, and I decided to make myself some breakfast before leaving so that I wouldn't be caught at the meeting without having something to eat.

I have Celiac Disease - an intolerance to anything containing gluten. I was actually diagnosed quite a few years ago, but up until two years ago, had not received a definitive diagnosis, or complete and accurate information on exactly what this disease actually was and how to deal with it. I have since tried to remain on a gluten-free diet for a little over a year, and am on the road to healing my damaged intestinal tract. I could (almost) write a daily blog on this subject alone. The emotional ups-and-downs of dealing with such an "inconvenient" disease can be overwhelming to say the least (gluten is found in just about everything), and becoming totally "gluten-free" is quite the challenge in today's world of processed and "fast" foods. Needless to say, I was trying to avoid being stuck at the meeting without breakfast.
I arrived at the church, signed in, grabbed a cup of coffee and took my seat at one of the tables. It promised to be a good meeting and I wasn't disappointed. Not only would I get to learn even more about this organization's presence within the archdiocese, as well as how each women's council at each parish contributed to their church and their community, we would also be listening to a presentation from an interesting and inspiring speaker. I was blessed to be seated at a table with several women that I knew from our church but for various reasons, never had the opportunity to really get to know. We chatted a little prior to the meeting actually starting, and after learning that lunch would also be served, I looked forward to talking with them later.

I'm not sure why I didn't consider the possibility that lunch might be served today...I suppose it just slipped my mind. However, when the time came for us to process to the buffet line, I immediately started to worry about what might be served...sure enough, after checking with one of my friends who helped to prepare the meal, the delicious-looking casserole was indeed not a dish that would be "safe" for me to consume. Neither were the enticing rolls or fresh strawberry shortcake. I quietly served myself a portion of the green salad with some Italian dressing, and returned to my table.

It occurred to me while I was sitting there, that I was finally learning to cope with the reality of this disease. I've been in denial with this battle for quite some time. While it did bother me just a little at first, I found that it really wasn't all that bad (of course, I made plans to stop and pick up a little something that I could eat on the way home!) What really helped were the wonderful conversations I had with the other ladies at my table, and the connections made during that time. Really and trully, for the first time, I was still happy and glad to be there - I wasn't upset or pouting any more about what I couldn't have to eat. The reasons that I was there were enough. It felt great, and I was proud of myself.

Immediately following our luncheon, we drew tickets for a raffle. Like most of the other women present, I too had purchased three tickets for this fund-raiser. The prize was a beautiful, very large basket of toiletries and and "spa" products. They actually called the number a couple times before I realized that I was the lucky winner! I couldn't believe it - I don't win raffles and the like very often at all, but there I was, shouting "It's ME!!"

To add even more excitement to my already memorable morning, I won another small door-prize. It was then - as I was walking back to the table with my second raffle win of the morning, that I considered my earlier "inconvenience" of not being able to eat lunch now "worth it." Even though the prizes were small yet sweet little luxuries, my disease and the problems associated with it seemed so much more insignificant now.

It was one of those moments that Oprah Winfrey calls a "light bulb" moment....it wasn't just winning the door-prize that caught my attention. I was still able to experience a moment of Joy in what could have been a depressing experience for me - had I let it! I personally feel that God was (once again) giving me a little tap on the shoulder and saying - "see it's not so bad - there are plenty of other things that make you happy besides food!"

I left that meeting today in such a good mood - and found myself feeling grateful - not for the prizes, but for the experience of just being in the company of such amazing women, and creating new friendships. How much more special than food is that?!

I mentioned this experience to my amazing friend and sister-in-law tonight, and she pushed me to share today's little piece of Joy. I'm eternally grateful to her for continuing to be there for me, and sharing her encouragement and support. We may not always win a raffle or lottery, or see an immediate benefit, but somewhere in the mix there is always going to be something positive gained from our daily challenges. By choosing to remain positive and relishing the friendship that surrounded me, I chose Joy - before even winning those raffle prizes.

While the choice is not always clearly marked and not always easy, the possibilities are ours for the taking. A minor set-back or disappointment can be just that - a minor inconvenience. We can choose Joy!

Pay it forward - spread a smile!
(photo courtesy of Google images.)

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